Drop in TV Ownership May Signal a Change In Consumer Electronics Purchases


Photo by gothopotam via Flickr CC

Nielsen has a new report out showing that television ownership has dropped for the first time in 20 years. There are a few guesses at why this is the case, even in our TV-obsessed country, and it just might mean not only a shift in how we watch media but also on which gadgets we consume our favorite shows. First Drop in TV Ownership in 20 Years
Nielsen reports that for the first time in 20 years, TV ownership has dropped from 98.9% to 96.7%. It doesn't look like a huge drop, but the 2.2% represents about 1.2 million households that don't own televisions.

Possible Reasons For Fewer TVs
There's a few possible reasons. First, Nielsen suspects that when the big switch to digital happened a couple years ago, many lower income families decided not to spend the bucks on a new television and instead are just going without. But another possibility is that with the rise of streaming shows and movies online, many people have decided a TV is just an unnecessary item.

Nielsen reports, "A small subset of younger, urban consumers are going without paid TV subscriptions. Long-term effects of this are unclear, as it's undetermined if this is also an economic issue, with these individuals entering the TV marketplace once they have the means, or the beginning of a larger shift to viewing online and on mobile devices."

For these younger urbanites, a laptop is more than sufficient for viewing favorite shows on Hulu, streaming new shows, and watching movies on Netflix...and a TV is just a financial burden and a space hog in small apartments.

Fewer TVs in Households - Does It Mean a Change in Electronics Ownership?
Does this drop in ownership mean that perhaps Americans are moving away from more energy intensive TV sets and simply using their computers? Well, maaaaybe.

Nielsen notes, "The last such UEs decline occurred in 1992, after Nielsen adjusted for the 1990 Census, and subsequently underwent a period of significant growth."

So instead of ditching TVs altogether in favor of computers, it could be that people are deferring a TV purchase later on. If we take into account that the next wave of TVs is going to be 3D, it could be that when a TV set fizzles out, a household is just holding out for a 3D set.

But we don't want to give up hope that more and more Americans are looking at streaming as the alternative to owning a television, since that could be a boon for the environment when it comes to e-waste and electricity consumption.

For now, the drop can most likely be attributed to the economy, which has seen better days. It could be that as jobs and incomes pick back up, so too will TV ownership. But we can still cross our fingers that people will instead use laptops and tablet devices, rather than a 200-watt TV set to watch shows.

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Tags: Electronics | Gadgets

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